What is Collagen and why is it so important?
Collagen makes up 30 percent of all the protein in the human body – it’s what gives strength and structure to our bones, muscles, skin and tendons. So when collagen production starts to gradually decline – as it does with age, stress and illness – the tell-tale signs of ageing begin to emerge, including wrinkles and weaker cartilage in our joints. Here we discuss the importance of collagen for firm, youthful skin as well as how certain treatments and supplements can help to improve and renew collagen, and what doesn’t.
Why is collagen so important?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and a significant factor for healthy skin. It gives our skin it’s structure and youthful firmness, and that is what forms the scaffolding of the skin. Our skin makes its own collagen in cells called fibroblasts, and this process of producing and renewing collagen goes on very efficiently until around the age of 25 when the production line starts to slow down gradually. In turn, this means our skin doesn’t repair itself as fast or as quickly as it did before. The expression lines that show when we frown, smile or crinkle our eyes start to become embedded.
We continue to produce collagen into our 40s, but for women, the problem becomes most apparent when we enter menopause and production more or less stops altogether.
How treatments can help
Collagen is fundamental to the look and quality of the skin. When the skin loses its collagen-based structure, it begins to look frail and sunken. Medical skin treatments such as microneedling, ultrasound and radiofrequency cause a degree of damage or injury to the skin, which creates a ‘wound-healing response’. This response triggers the production of new collagen as the skin works to repair the damage.
Injectable treatments such as Profhilo also work to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, by boosting firmness and hydrating the skin as it goes. Profhilo, in particular, stimulates four different types of collagen and elastin by slowly releasing a highly-concentrated hyaluronic acid to tighten skin, improve hydration and stimulate collagen production. Skincare can also help – retinol creams will help to wake up dozy, ageing fibroblasts, as will well-formulated vitamin C serums. Protecting your skin from harmful UV light by using a daily sunscreen is also crucial as sunlight will gradually wear down your collagen over time.
Do collagen drinks and powders work?
Collagen supplements can have significant benefits, but it’s important to note that the collagen you ingest doesn’t automatically become new collagen. First of all, it’s broken down into amino acids and peptides and then distributed to where the body needs it. Some of this will then be used to make new collagen in your skin, but could equally be directed to other places.
When buying oral collagen, it’s essential to look for ‘hydrolysed’ collagen, which is easier for your body to use and therefore plays a crucial role in how effective the supplement is. Hydrolysed collagen is also thought to be the only type of collagen that can impact the skin positively.
The ideal dose is 10g (10,000g) of hydrolysed collagen per day. At this dose, oral collagen has been clinically proven to reduce the rate at which our collagen breaks down, improve the skin’s natural collagen production and improve hydration and healing.
What about collagen creams?
The collagen molecule in creams is far too large to be absorbed through the skin and have any lasting effect, so when looking for collagen inducing skincare, skip the collagen creams that make big promises and instead focus on retinoids, antioxidants and daily use of sunscreen.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.